Jim D'Arcy

Party News Brief: Debate with Conservative at Southend

Source: Socialist Standard, July 1949.
Transcription: Socialist Party of Great Britain.
HTML Markup: D. Whitehead
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Southend Branch reports a very successful public debate held in the British Legion Hall at Rayleigh, near Southend, on May 19th. The Conservative Party was represented by Mr. Bernard Braine, its prospective candidate for S.E. Essex, and our representative was Comrade D'Arcy. The hall, which held about 200, could not accommodate all who desired to attend. Restrictions on the sale of literature caused the Southend members some disappointment, particularly as a large proportion of the audience was apparently Tory.

The subject of the debate, chosen by the Conservatives, was Capitalism or Socialism, but if Mr. Braine had anything to do with the choice, he did not appear to have selected wisely. He maintained that he was as concerned as the S.P.G.B. with present-day social problems. Instead of defending Capitalism, he used much of his time asserting that "Socialists in general" could not agree as to what Socialism was and that they used time and energy arguing amongst themselves. None of them, not even the S.P.G.B., could explain how it would work. Capitalism, he claimed, had been a great success in that it had been the means of a constantly rising standard of living. The social problems of today are not the peculiar product of Capitalism, but existed long before Capitalism. Society, he declared, was not class divided.

The Southend Standard reported Mr. Braine as saying:

"There is no such thing as the working class, as distinct from the rest of the population. All this talk about the working class is designed to appeal to an inferiority complex. The work shy and the inefficient—he is the man who will come out on top in the Socialist system of dis-incentives."

J. D'Arcy warned Mr. Braine that it was the case of the S.P.G.B that he should deal with. The record of the S.P.G.B. in its hostility to the so-called Socialist parties, like the Labour Party, was sounder than that of the Conservatives. Com. D'Arcy drove home a telling attack against Capitalism which apparently confused Mr. Braine, because in his reply he admitted that he found himself in difficulty. He extricated himself from his difficulty by covering his obvious inability to defend Capitalism with confused references to "all Socialists" and the failures of "Socialist governments" as he insisted on calling them.

The debate achieved a good measure of publicity, including a good write-up in the local press. Southend branch is making every effort to arrange further debates. Outdoor meetings are held on Southend Sea-Front on Sunday evenings from 6.30 p.m.